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Explorations of a Mind-Traveling Sociologist

Explorations of a Mind-Traveling Sociologist

By Renée C. Fox

“Explorations of a Mind-Traveling Sociologist” is a book of thematically interconnected ethnographic essays by the internationally esteemed sociologist Renée C. Fox, who employs a participant observer outlook to provide insight on enduring––and pressing––issues of geopolitics, epidemics, aging, friendship and humanitarian action and on the meaning and meaningfulness of teaching, exploring, questing and writing.

Hardback, 250 Pages


November 2019

£39.99, $49.00

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About This Book

When the author’s aging body and the post-polio symptoms it was manifesting made it impossible for her to undertake the physically strenuous ethnographic research in the array of American, European, African and Asian settings that underlay her book Doctors Without Borders and characterized her research throughout her career, she began writing ethnographic essays, drawing from a range of things she was seeing, experiencing, thinking and feeling at this juncture in her life.

Among the leitmotifs that pervade and interconnect these topically varied essays are lived experiences of physicians and patients, including patients who are physically handicapped, elderly, mortally ill or beyond the reach of medical care; the origins and consequences of epidemic outbreaks of old and new plague-like infectious diseases that occur and recur, despite the impressive advances of medicine; the concomitants and challenges of aging; the wellsprings, dynamics and significance of medical humanitarian action; engagement with a “beyond borders” world view; the occurrence of national and international events of major moral as well as political and legal import and repercussions, such as the travel ban on persons from certain countries with a predominantly Muslim population initiated by Donald Trump and the terrorist bombing in Brussels’s Zaventem airport; and the meaning and meaningfulness of teaching, exploring, questing and writing. Latently associated with these themes are the author’s social values and social conscience.

Composing these essays from a participant observer outlook heightens and enriches the author’s observations over the course of her daily life, enabling her to engage in “mind travel” to places and people she has intimately known in the past and to places she has yearningly hoped to visit but never has.


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Author Information

Renée C. Fox is the Annenberg Professor Emerita of the Social Sciences, Emerita Senior Fellow of the Center for Bioethics and Professor Emerita of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and the Schools of Medicine and Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, USA.


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Table of Contents

Foreword by Anne Fadiman; Preface; Resilience; Apartment Number 1103/4; A Hallway Friendship; Making an Apartment House My Home; Beyond Borders; The Meanings of My MSF Book; Venturing Out with a Rolling Walker; Election to the Explorers Club; Encounters with Physicians; Plagues; Miss Balkema—and Mary Beth; Life, Death, and Uncertainty in Physicians’ Memoirs; Terrorist Bombings in Brussels; The 2016 Presidential Election; Donald Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration; On Being a Teacher; What I Learned about the Language of Silence; A Bioethics Award and a Surrogate Lecture; Epilogue; Index.

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